This week, we're talking about vocational alignment and I'm going to make a pretty bold statement, but I bet not many will disagree with me. Vocational misalignment is probably the #1 contributor to you wearing out prematurely. Think about the car illustration above. I'm talking about extreme frustration, burnout and even depression related to your job. Can you relate? If this Forbes article is even close to being true, many of you must be able to relate, because it says over 70% of people hate their jobs! Now I know that the HR gurus out there will say that these workplaces need to have better training and incentive programs and that will improve morale. While that's true, to some degree, let's go a little deeper than that. Let's talk about the root of it all. The root of the pain is the misalignment.
How did you decide to go into the field of work you're in or even choose the specific company you work for? Please don't say because of the pay. As shocking as it is to me, it seems like many (maybe even a majority?) of people are looking for an easy job with good pay. That is almost psychotic! Think about this for a minute. You're talking about a place you spend at least 40 hours per week at. Many of us spend well above 40 hours, but let's just say it's 40 hours. That's over 2000 hours per year, probably more time than you spend in any other one place. And 70% of you hate it! Let's be real. That's just plain stupid. Now, I know you're not stupid. So why do smart people do stupid things? Because they don't know what else to do. Let's look at 5 questions you must be willing to answer if you're going to have vocational alignment. Remember, misalignment = pain, alignment = full functionality.
5 Questions You Must Be Willing To Answer
- Do I fit here? Just because you can do the work and you get paid well, it does not necessarily mean you fit. Fit is about culture and every workplace has culture. Some cultures are healthy, some are sick, but they all have culture. Do you fit with the culture? I had a friend put it this way. He said, "Sometimes, you have to be willing to say, nope, not my kind of place." He's absolutely right. Is it your kind of place? Does the culture of your company uphold the kind of values that are important to you? Is your conscience completely clear when you consider all the aspects of your job? Do you like your co-workers and believe they like you? If you answered no to any of these, you may not fit and you may need to figure out what it means to move on.
- Am I good at my job? Well, are you? How will you know? Many employers have a regular review process. That's one good indicator. Another is whether or not you're getting promoted. I know we all want to blame inter-office politics, and that is sometimes the case. But the bigger truth is that players make it onto the field. If you're a player, you're probably going to be promoted at a reasonable rate and to a reasonable level. You won't get promoted to CEO of the drafting company just because you do a good job answering the phones. But you will get promoted to some higher level if you're truly promotable. There's also the gut test. In your gut, you know if you're good at your job or if you're not. There's almost nothing as de-energizing as working in a role you know you stink at. I know because I've been there . . . and I left.
- Does this energize or de-energize me? There's this huge lie floating around that work is always going to suck and you'll only get pleasure and energy out of other pieces of your life. Over 2000 hours per year of de-energizing life-suck and you'll make up for that in other ways? Good luck with that. Not every aspect of your job is going to be energizing, but if you finish most days dreading the next, you're de-energized and your need to figure out what it means to change roles or move on.
- Is there light at the end of the tunnel? You may be in a spot where your work is not all that energizing, but you do like the culture of your company and your boss has shown you a road forward to more energizing and fulfilling work. If this is the case, good for you. Keep up the good work and enjoy the promotions when they come. I've also been in this place before. It has its challenges, but overall it's a good situation. However, there's also the other side. You may be in a place where the work and the culture are not energizing and there is no next step forward. They call it a dead-end job for a reason. Get out.
- Do I need to reinvent myself? Sometimes you're at a pretty good job that's been a pretty good fit, but you feel some kind of internal restlessness. That's ok and that's normal. Don't ignore this. It's a noble idea that you'll be the loyal and faithful employee for 30 years, get a gold watch and retire with a nice pension. The reality is that most of us will change jobs many times and even change careers a few times. Don't run from that. Take the proper steps to explore what that restlessness inside of you means.
Of course, these questions only help if you're willing to be honest and follow your honest answers to their logical conclusions. Many times, as I stated in several examples above, the logical conclusion is to move on. That's a daunting and scary prospect. Believe me, I know. I've been there and done that. Let me give you three tangible steps you can take if you think it might be time to move on and get more vocationally aligned.
- Get to know yourself. There are lots of ways you can do this. I wrote about it last week. Give it a read here.
- Birkman Coaching. The Birkman assessment and the corresponding coaching that goes with it is the single most effective tool to help you get to vocational alignment. You can get more info on Birkman coaching here.
- Life-Planning. This is going to be especially helpful with #5 above. I am facilitating another Life-Plan retreat for men March 22-25, 2017. More info here.